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Springfield Armory 1911-A1 auto pistols.

I happen to be one of those die-hards who believes the .45 ACP Colt 1911 (and variants) was the best auto pistol ever designed. Apparently, I'm not alone, for the gun trade is rife with copies and aftermarket accessories, not to mention sophisticated accurizing jobs.

Springfield Armory, Dept. GA, 420 West Main St., Geneseo, IL 61254, is now offering 9mm and .45 ACP versions of the GI 1911A1 (which they term 1911-A1) for the mouth-dropping tariff of $289 retail. Granted, when someone produces an entirely new-made, forged Government Model for almost half the price of other 1911-type autos, it's eyebrow raising time.

As you might expect, I was more than a little avid to evaluate examples of these wunderpistolen. You might remember a couple of months ago I reviewed Springfield Armory's excellent FN-FAL look-alike, the SAR-48. The quality of this piece somewhat tempered my skepticism concerning the pistols.

Well, I must admit that when the sample 1911-A1s arrived, there were more than a few surprised gun editors. The overall fit and finish (parkerized, by the way) was excellent and certainly up to mil specs. Takedown of the arms revealed innards as meticulously detailed as the exterior parts. Granted, the high polish one might expect on a "civilian" 1911 wasn't there, but remember, these are military-style guns. The guns did indeed appear to be forged. Grips are of checkered walnut. While the .45 version was straight GI, the 9mm did have an added bit of embellishment in the way of a shallow rib across the top of the slide.

Markings, while not strictly GI, at least maintained the martial feeling by having slides stamped with the handsome Springfield Armory variant of the U.S. Ordnance insignia, plus restrained use of the company name and caliber designations on the frames and slides.

While the magazine of the .45 is standard issue (to include a pinned floorplate), that of the 9mm is somewhat unorthodox, in that it features the more "custom" rail-type follower. Mag capacity is seven rounds for the .45 and eight for the 9mm.

As Springfield Armory claims that the parts of its guns are interchangeable with military 1911s, we procured a WWII-vintage Remington for control and "match 'n' mate" purposes.

At our test facility, the Angeles Shooting Range in nearby Little Tujunga Canyon, we put both guns through their paces using a variety of .45 ACP (PMC 230-grain hardball, Winchester 185-grain Silvertip, Federal 185-grain wadcutter and Federal 185-grain hollow point) and 9mm (Winchester 115-grain hardball, Winchester 115-grain Silvertip, Remington 115-grain jacketed hollow point and Federal 115-grain jacketed hollow point) ammo. We first stoked the .45 with hardball just to check basic operation. Cycling was impeccable, and the trigger was surprisingly light and crisp for an "army" arm. Next, we loaded up a mag full of semi-wadcutters to check feeding and, again, the 1911-A1 came through with flying colors. A jumbled mag loaded with examples of our entire test stock also failed to daunt the .45, and in firing several hundred rounds of ammo, we experienced only three feeding failures with the Winchester Silvertips. The 9mm also functioned well, with nary a hitch. Recoil was extremely light, though the trigger was not quite as good as the .45's, and the thin rib proved to be virtually superfluous as a sighting aid for the simple square notch/blade combo.

We were able to mix and match parts with our original 1911A1 and fire either gun with alacrity. The parts were so close, in fact, that we had a hard time telling them apart. All fit well with the exception of the Springfield barrel, which would not slip into the Remington's slide.

Groups with the guns were good military-class spreads. The best 25-yard, five-shot string with the .45 measured 2-7/8 inches using the PMC hardball. The 9mm turned in a 2-3/4-incher with the Winchester Silvertips.

With their forged parts, either gun would be a natural for accurizing. Based upon our two test guns, I am sure that the Springfield Armory 1911-A1s could easily be tuned to competition grade. In any mode, however, these low-cost, quality Government Models just could prove to be the auto pistol buy of the season.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:James, Gary
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Oct 1, 1985
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